Do you have a mental script?
My husband, Larry, and I recently bought plane tickets to go to our speaking engagements in China in September. We were trying to figure out our seat locations by talking over the phone with a travel agent who had a very thick accent. It was very difficult to understand her and Larry was getting tense (and as Forrest Gump says, "That's all I'm gonna say about that").
He and I have very different preferences for seat locations but even though we had discussed our ideas, we hadn't really come to an agreement before we had to talk to the agent. As he dealt with the agent, and I tried to express my ideas, I felt very dismissed like Larry wasn't willing to really hear me. He seemed to be putting his preferences over mine as he chose seats.
Definitely, a recipe for disastrous misunderstandings. As is my pattern, I stopped saying anything.
Now that might sound godly but my motives were not godly. One of my sinful strategies is to withdraw and feel like a victim and a martyr. I withdrew into my shell like a turtle fearing danger. Not a pretty sight (Tweet That!)—because it results in sulking, bitterness, and hardening my heart. And I also chose my other protective strategy: I started writing a protective script. Do you have one like mine? Or something different?
- Larry is such a bully.
- He never listens.
- He says he wants the best for me but he really doesn't.
- He chooses himself over me.
We confirmed our reservation and I didn't say anything. Without a conscious choice, I felt at peace. But then I woke up the next morning and I began rehearsing the script again. My usual pattern was to wallow in my resentment, but for once, I was willing to speak up.
At first, I thought of saying something with an accusing tone. I wanted to blame him. But then I felt God's empowering for asking—instead of telling/accusing. I committed to "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).
Later, I asked Larry, "So tell me again where our seats are located."
I was shocked when he told me the locations. They were exactly what I wanted—and what he wanted. Even though one seat was between us, we would both have what we wanted.
He had heard me.
He did want my best.
He had listened.
He did care.
Our one-sided disagreement (on my side) was being used by Satan to foster accusations, misunderstandings, and a wall between us.
I should have known Satan was on the prowl. He never suggests being patient, understanding or speaking the truth in love. (Tweet That!) His wicked and muddy fingerprints were all over this situation and I was eager to get my fingers dirty.
Thank you, Lord, that You brought understanding and peace. Please empower me the next time as well.
Do you write one-sided scripts? What does your script look like?